Health lifestyle theory in an Asian context

Cockerham, William C
April 2006
Health Sociology Review;Apr2006, Vol. 15 Issue 1, p5
Academic Journal
Health in Western society has become viewed as an achievement: something people are supposed to work at to enhance their quality of life or risk chronic illness and premature death. This is evident in the research documenting the close connection between chronic illnesses and health lifestyles. Almost all of this research is based on Western populations and much of it treats health behaviour and lifestyles as matters of individual choice or agency. While agency is important, structural conditions can 'act back' on individuals to configure their lifestyles in particular ways. The focus of this paper is to apply a new theoretical model to an Asian context. This model features a convergence between agency and structure and is supported by studies in Western countries. If the model is to have global relevance, it needs to be representative of health lifestyles in Asia as well. Unfortunately, there very few relevant studies available in Asia. Consequently, the intent of this paper is to not only present an initial theoretical framework for such studies, but also to call attention to the need for research in Asia on this topic. Everyone has a health lifestyle and Asians are no exception, as their lifestyles undoubtedly play a decisive role in determining health in the Pacific region.


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